Cliché-Driven California

Too much public policy in our state is cliché-driven, as this article from the Press Enterprise reports.

An excerpt.

California’s public schools may be described euphemistically as “a mixed bag.” Not every school is failing – at least by state and federal standards of failure and success. And not every school resembles a prison.

What’s true across the state also is the case locally. Some schools do better than others at teaching the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic. Not every school district is scandal-plagued and struggling.

Nevertheless, in public schooling, as in geology, gems are rare. Lance Izumi of the Pacific Research Institute a few years ago offered a more accurate description of our public school landscape in his book: “Not as good as you think.”

Izumi, who co-authored the book and co-produced a documentary film by the same title, found that the ills afflicting public education aren’t quarantined in inner-city school districts. They infect “good” suburban, middle-class schools as well. Even where students score well on state tests, they often founder in international comparisons.

His solution? Give parents more options to send their kids to schools that better serve their needs.

Izumi’s work came to mind late last week, when word arrived that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s office unveiled a new “Blueprint for Great Schools.” This one is actually version 2.0 – a continuation of a plan Torlakson loosed upon the state to similar fanfare in 2011.

“Blueprint 2.0 is the next stage of a rocket that is propelling California into a bright future in which every child receives a world-class education,” Torlakson said in a cliché-ridden statement. “I look forward to implementing these recommendations, which will help us better prepare students for college and careers in the 21st century.”

See what I mean?

Blueprint 2.0 was the work of a committee of “29 education leaders and experts.” Among the committee’s recommendations: to form a committee to develop recommendations for a new academic performance accountability system. The old system went out with the arrival of the Common Core State Standards.

Retrieved July 31, 2015 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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